The Future of TV
by James Jaeger

True video-on-demand is already here. It's called: "clicking on a URL and being able to play a movie over the Internet." This is as on-demand as it gets.

There IS however one more element that will eventually perfect the demise of cable TV. That is, built-in computers and web browsers in all high-def TVs.

You will note the next time you are at CIRCUIT CITY there is a merging between the wall of high def TVs (ranging from the high-end large-screen, 1080p flat panel screens to the cost-effective rear-projection boxes) AND the wall of computer monitors in the back of CIRCUIT CITY near the computers.

This is the TV BOYS competing with the COMPUTER MONITOR BOYS.

The computer monitors are increasingly offering not only VGA, but S-video and composite inputs. The more expensive ones, such as the 22-inch Gateway, offer in addition component and DVI as well as USB I/O. Component and DVI are both high-def ports whereas composite and S-video are regular NTSC ports. DVI is slowly replacing component as S-video replaced composite. These PC monitors, however, are NOT cable ready. They do NOT have an RF coaxial port so you can plug them into your analog cable output.

On the other hand, in the TV BOYS section, these screens DO have an RF coaxial port so you can plug them into your analog cable output -- obviously, otherwise they wouldn't be TVs (especially now that broadcasting is being phased out). Increasingly the TVs also have a VGA port so you can use them as a huge computer monitor, BUT you still cannot access the Internet directly from them because they do not have built in computers or browsers, as mentioned above.

Once all TVs are not only cable ready, as discussed above, AND they can access the Internet, through a built in mini-computer and browser, THEN you will have instant multi-million channel video-on-demand -- as you now have on your desktop PC monitor when your computer is connected to any broadband Internet connection.

I would say when TVs are computerized and they have Ethernet ports and/or WIFI cards in them, you will then see the total demise of CATV.

But surprise: the manufactures are hesitating to offer this. No wonder, as SONY, one of the major MPAA studio/distributors, also happens to be one of the world's most influential hardware manufacturers. I wager it is also because of them that it took so long for plasma and LCD TVs to hit the market (at reasonable prices) as they didn't want their domestic theatrical box office undermined. And surprise, again, this is exactly what has happened as the Hollywood BO has been off for several successive years.

IMO, the studios' only remedy for this is to bring back the double-bill show and lower ticket prices slightly. No one wants to pay $10 to see a movie. But if one paid say $8 to see a movie, and then they were free to watch another one right after that, if they wanted, it would make the movie theater experience all the more appealing and competitive with the homevideo and cable markets: $4 per movie in a state-of-the-art house -- AND multi-million dollar movie theaters ARE still orders of magnitude better than home theaters.

29 February 2008

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